Potential application of a Gulf Coast Tick, Amblyomma maculatum Koch, Aggregation-Attachment-Pheromone for surveillance of free-living adults



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Texas A&M University


The aggregation-attachment-pheromone (AAP) of two geographic strains of the Gulf Coast tick, Amblyomma maculatum Koch, was investigated to evaluate practicality of using solid-phase-microextraction (SPME) in an AAP study of Gulf Coast tick. Solid-phase microextraction was used to compare the AAP production in two strains of fed male Gulf Coast tick and demonstrate and confirm the presence of AAP in bioassays. A solid-phase-microextraction (SPME) headspace collection technique was sufficient to capture volatile organic compounds produced by fed and unfed male Gulf Coast ticks. Gas chromatography analysis revealed three major volatile organic compounds were produced in significantly greater amounts (p < 0.05) by fed males than those produced by unfed males. These volatile compounds were produced in significantly higher amount by the third day of feeding by male ticks. However, two of these volatiles remained relatively constant in their production while the primary volatile compound increased in its production until the eighth day of feeding by male Gulf Coast ticks. Also, the relative abundances of these three volatile organic compounds were different between Oklahoma and Texas strains of Gulf Coast ticks. The activity of AAP from fed male Gulf Coast ticks was confirmed using two bioassay techniques. A petri dish bioassay revealed significantly higher numbers of female Gulf Coast ticks attracted to fed-males which also produced significantly greater amounts (p < 0.001) of volatile organic compounds detected by GC analysis. The Ytube olfactometer bioassay revealed that significantly higher numbers of females responded to fed-males or to CO2 when compared to purified air (p < 0.001), but the differences in female response to fed-males and CO2 were not significant (p < 0.391 in Oklahoma strain and p < 0.458 in Texas strain). However, female responses to stimuli containing both fed-males and CO2 were significantly higher when compared to either stimulus alone (p < 0.001).